Bad Yelp Reviews Aren’t All Bad

Last night I was given the opportunity of speaking about the role of social media for small businesses. After I had finished my spiel about why the coming age of mobile devices, digital natives and social platforms was an opportunity not to be missed it was time for next speaker, Nick Lembo from Yelp.

For those in Australia or around the world who have not had the opportunity to use Yelp, I’ll explain. Yelp is a consumer review website that allows you to rate and review a range of businesses such as restaurants, shops, doctors offices and travel agents. Nick’s presentation was about the role that review sites such as Yelp played in customer’s decision-making. He also touched on a very important that sites like Yelp played: reviews.

One of the constant questions that I ask clients who ask us to take over their social media presence is:

“What do you do with the bad reviews?”

The answer, which always makes me grimace, is:

“We delete them”

This is my reaction when someone says they just 'delete' their bad reviews.

This is my reaction when someone says they just ‘delete’ their bad reviews.














It’s the natural disposition for people to remove the negative reviews from their sites. They want nothing more than to be loved by all and to show that everything is perfect. However, that’s never the reality of the situation.

There are two reasons that someone leaves a negative review:

  1. They are a competitor and are trying to make you look bad
  2. They genuinely had a bad time

There’s little you can do about number 1. Often it’s simply the cost of doing business. Many sites such as Yelp have sophisticated software which prevent this sort of underhanded tactic but, in many cases, one can simply hope for some sort of karmic revenge.

However, when you’re dealing with number 2 then the ball is almost entirely in your court.

But what should one do when they find themselves with a negative review?

Well, don’t do THIS

The Secret To Winning Back Your Customers

Don’t respond with hostility (even though you may want to). Don’t respond with sarcasm or racism or anything less than a diplomatic answer. Other potential customers on the review sites will be looking as much at your responses than the complaints against you.

If the complaints appears to be genuine, apologise. Say that you’re sorry that they had a bad experience but that you hoped they would try again. Offer them a coupon or some sort of recompense. Tell them what practices you’ve put in place to try to ensure that such a failure of staff, communication or management doesn’t happen again.

In many cases, people simply want to know that their complaint has been heard. They want to know that they’re not simply shouting into the ether. If you’re able to address their grievances then, in many cases, they’ll be forgiving…they may even come back to your restaurant again.

When it comes to a bad review: all you have are good opportunities.